The New York Yankees have received contributions from just about everyone on the roster leading them to an impressive 57-37 record and a seven-game lead in the American League East. I asked the staff at Yanks Go Yard to name the key Yankees player for the remainder of the season as the Bombers push to reach the postseason. Here is what we had to say.
Robinson Cano is definitely the key to the playoff push for the Yankees. He has been the team’s best hitter — save for maybe April Jeter — and if he keeps raking nobody will stop the Yanks. Not only is he great at the plate, but he also makes incredible plays in the field on a regular basis.
The key player for the second-half push is Ivan Nova. His season so far has been fairly unspectacular, but he has shown flashes of brilliance here and there, improvements from last year, and a hope for Yankees fans that he can be the future of the Yankees starting rotation. In the second half, Nova could either go backwards, getting fewer strikeouts, more walks, and continue to give up home runs, thus making him more of a backend starter, or he could perform like the star that many hope he is. The biggest issue for Nova will be the home run, but if he can keep the ball on the ground and limit the long ball, he will be a key piece in the second half and into the playoffs.
The Yankee that is most important for the playoff run is first baseman Mark Teixeira. All the focus in the lineup for opposing pitchers has been Robby Cano and rightfully so, but Tex, IMO, has put the shift out of his head and is starting to become more locked in at the plate. His defense is always critical, but when the weather gets hot, those Tex messages fly at a high rate. Plus, the Yankees need him to get that confidence going if he is finally going to have that breakthrough October in the Bronx.
My key player for the second half has to be Robbie Cano. I think he’s been a major reason the Yankees’ offense has turned around in the RISP department and started turning those low scoring affairs into wins rather than losses (except when they play the A’s, apparently). He needs to continue to pace the offense and be there when the shell of Alex Rodriguez and the inconsistent Mark Teixeira. Cano is the most consistent hitter in the Yankee lineup, so it’s imperative that he keep that going heading into the dog days of August and September’s playoff run.
Honestly, the key player for the Yankees in this half will be Mark Teixeira. Tex’s role in the line-up is one that cannot easily be replaced. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano are considered the top two power bats in our line-up, especially Cano as Joe Girardi likes to move him anywhere from third to fifth. Tex however, is supposed to add padding to those respective roles. With Tex’s power, Girardi usually bats him as cleanup or fifth. We all have seen A-Rod struggle one way or another this season, so if you want a power bat that’s consistent, then it has to be Tex. Girardi should start the line-up as Jeter, Granderson, Cano then Tex. We know Tex is a power hitter so he can really benefit in that role as a cleanup hitter from here on out. His numbers have been a little under what they usually are, but hey, that’s why he’s a guy to watch for in this second half. He’ll turn it around.
I was set to name Brett Gardner as the key player for the remainder of the season, but his year has come to an end after playing in only nine games. It is an unfortunate turn of events for the Yankees as they were hoping for the speedy left fielder to be a catalyst for the playoff push. With Gardner out, I’ll name CC Sabathia as my choice for key player.
Sabathia has proven time and again that he can be a workhorse and carry a team on his back. While the rest of the Yankees pitching staff is performing well, I think Sabathia is going to have to go on a run to anchor the rest of the staff which is still full of questions. Whether Sabathia is looked at as the stopper, which he’ll try to do today, or the man to come up with the big win in a crucial game, he’ll need to be at his best from here on out to make up for the inconsistency which hinders the rest of the rotation at times.
Teams will be gunning for the Yankees, so no lead is too safe, especially in the tough AL East. Any of these players can be seen as the key to keeping the Yankees on top and reaching the postseason. What do you think? Who would you name as the key player for the Yankees as they try to reach the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.